24 Sussex Drive

Coordinates: 45°26′40″N 75°41′38″W / 45.44444°N 75.69389°W / 45.44444; -75.69389
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  • 24 Sussex Drive
  • 24, promenade Sussex
Front of 24 Sussex Drive
General information
Architectural styleNorman Revival
Town or cityOttawa, Ontario
Coordinates45°26′40″N 75°41′38″W / 45.44444°N 75.69389°W / 45.44444; -75.69389
Current tenantsNone
Construction started1866
Renovated1950, awaiting pending renovation
ClientJoseph Merrill Currier
OwnerThe King in Right of Canada
LandlordNational Capital Commission
Design and construction
Architect(s)Joseph Merrill Currier

24 Sussex Drive, originally called Gorffwysfa and usually referred to simply as 24 Sussex, is the official residence of the prime minister of Canada, located in the New Edinburgh neighbourhood of Ottawa, Ontario.[1] Built between 1866 and 1868 by Joseph Merrill Currier, it has been the official home of the prime minister of Canada since 1951. It is one of two official residences made available to the prime minister, the Harrington Lake estate in nearby Gatineau Park being the other.


The house at 24 Sussex Drive was originally commissioned in 1866 by lumberman and Member of Parliament Joseph Merrill Currier as a wedding gift for his wife-to-be Hannah Wright.[2] It was completed in 1868 and Currier named it Gorffwysfa (Welsh for 'place of rest'). It was sold for $30,000 in 1901, after Hannah Currier's death, to William Edwards.[3]

In 1943, the Government of Canada used its power of expropriation to divest Gordon Edwards, nephew of William Edwards, of his title to the house, to consolidate Crown ownership of the lands along the Ottawa River.[3] Edwards had fought the action, but eventually lost the dispute with the Canadian government in 1946 and died at the house later that year.[2]

After several years of uncertainty, the government decided in 1950 to refurbish the property as a residence for the prime minister, the renovations costing just over $500,000.[3] Louis St. Laurent was the first to take up residence in 1951. Since then, every prime minister—except for Kim Campbell (who resided at Harrington Lake[4]) and Justin Trudeau (who has opted to reside at Rideau Cottage pending a review of work needed to repair the house[8])—has resided at 24 Sussex Drive for the duration of their times in office. Previous prime ministers lived at a variety of locations around Ottawa: Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King, for instance, lived at Laurier House in Sandy Hill. Laurier House was willed to the Crown upon Mackenzie King's death in 1950 and was thus also available for designation as the prime minister's official residence at the time.[9]

Security at 24 Sussex was overhauled following an attempted assassination on November 5, 1995, by André Dallaire, who wandered around the house and grounds for nearly an hour before being confronted outside Jean Chrétien's bedroom by the Prime Minister's wife, Aline; she locked the door to the bedroom while Jean guarded it with an Inuit stone carving.[10] Ultimately, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers arrested Dallaire. Measures put in place after the incident included the addition of several more guards and security cameras to the house's attaché, and the installation of crash-proof barriers within the main gates.[11]


Margaret Trudeau, spouse of Pierre Trudeau, with Pat Nixon holding Justin Trudeau at 24 Sussex Drive, 1972
(Left to right) Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, his wife, Aline Chrétien, Marzena Skorek, and Adam Skorek outside the front entrance of 24 Sussex Dr, 19 June 1999

Unlike 10 Downing Street or the White House, 24 Sussex Drive has been used almost exclusively as a place of residence (and therefore its address has never been widely used as a metonym for the Office of the Prime Minister). The prime minister's work is carried out by the Office of the Prime Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council building, near Parliament Hill. However, prime ministers have conducted some work at 24 Sussex Drive over the years, and informal meetings between prime ministers and other government or foreign officials have taken place in the house (foreign heads of state on state visits are officially hosted by the monarch or governor general at Rideau Hall).[12]

Despite the building not having any bureaucratic function, it has been the location of protests, such as when farmers drove their tractors in a convoy past the front of the property in 2006[13] and when Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the front gates in March 2007.[14]

Stephen Harper is the most recent prime minister to have resided at 24 Sussex Drive, leaving in 2015. 24 Sussex has remained unoccupied, but staff use its kitchen to prepare meals which are then delivered to Trudeau's family at Rideau Cottage.[15]


The residence at 24 Sussex Drive is a large, limestone-clad structure set on 1.6 hectares (4.0 acres) on the south bank of the Ottawa River, overlooking Governor Bay, next to the French embassy and opposite the main entrance to Rideau Hall. The house consists of 35 rooms spread on four floors, including the basement, connected by an elevator and many staircases.[3] The basement consists of support rooms, while the main floor holds the dining room, living room, kitchen (which is staffed by a head chef and support staff), main stair hall, prime minister's library, and a sun room. The second floor is primarily bedrooms, including the master bedroom, as well as a family room (described by Margaret Trudeau as her "freedom room")[3] and the office of prime minister's spouse. The third floor contains additional bedrooms and a private study for the prime minister.

The exterior of the house is a mid-century modern take on Norman Revival architecture. When originally built, it was very much of the Victorian (Queen Anne) style; it had high gables, extensive verandahs, and a liberal use of gingerbread trim. A turret was added by the Edwards family in 1907. After it was decided in 1950 the house would become the official residence of the prime minister, the turret, widow's walk, trim, main gable at the front, verandahs, and porte-cochère were removed and an extension added to the east. The interior was gutted, save for part of the dining room.[3]

The National Capital Commission (NCC) maintains the house, its property, and a selection of historic furnishings from the Crown Collection for use in the public rooms of the mansion, ranging from musical instruments to chairs, tables, and paintings by famous Canadians. However, due to the lack of restraints on the prime minister of the day to do what he or she pleases with the home, several have left their own marks on the building. For example, the rear patio was enclosed and winterized while Lester B. Pearson was prime minister and inside, Pearson's wife, Maryon, created in the basement the Canadiana Room, where she collected Canadian antiques and craft-work. While Joe Clark and his family were resident at 24 Sussex, the interiors were redecorated, the dining room ceiling receiving gold leaf re-purposed from another project. Unnamed business associates of Pierre Trudeau installed a swimming pool for his frequent workouts.[3] The pool, designed by government architect Stig Harvor, reportedly cost $275,000 due to an underground access increasing the expense.[16] This was raised in a "public fund" headed by Keith Davey, the donors to which were never made public.[17][18] Brian Mulroney was the first prime minister to have the costs of renovations publicly revealed. The high tab for his and his wife's alterations to the building caused political controversy, especially as some of the costs were paid for from the PC Canada Fund, which raised money from individual donations to fund the Progressive Conservative Party.

Since the renovation of the house in 2001, very little has been spent on upkeep of 24 Sussex Drive, leaving parts of it worn and outdated, including the heating and cooling systems, wiring, and roofing.[19] On May 6, 2008, the Auditor General reported that the house was in poor condition and needed about $10 million in repairs and upgrades, which would require at least 12 to 15 months of "full access" to complete.[20] In October 2015, Bryan Baeumler estimated $15 million might be necessary to properly renovate the residence.[21] The NCC devised a plan for major renovations,[22] asserting such a project would require approximately 18 months.[23] In 2021 the NCC released a new cost estimate of $36.6 million to bring the house to a state of good repair.[24] However, the estimate includes a 370-square-metre (4,000 sq ft) expansion of the main building to improve universal accessibility, functionality, and livability.[25]

As of 2023, the building was infested with rodents, and "the walls, attic and basement are filled with carcasses and excrement".[26] In May 2023, work began to strip the property of asbestos and to remove "obsolete mechanical, heating, and electrical systems" which were the reasons that the building was deemed a fire hazard. The NCC estimated that the work would take one year to complete. [27]

The front facade of 24 Sussex Drive before the renovations in 1950
Rear of 24 Sussex Drive, facing the Ottawa River, 2005
The gate and coach house, near the entrance to the property

Proposed replacement[edit]

The idea of removing part of the structure and replacing it with a modern section has been floated.[28][29] There have been occasional calls to demolish the entire structure and rebuild, which would cost less than a renovation.[30] Maureen McTeer, wife of former Prime Minister Joe Clark, said the building is "completely lacking" in architectural value and is not worth saving.[31] The designation as a federal heritage building, though not legally binding,[32] would probably protect it against such a measure.[33]

The RCMP is concerned that the 24 Sussex address is too close to a busy road and lacks a buffer zone, so it has even been suggested that the prime minister's residence be moved to a new site that would have sufficient space for official functions, security, and staff.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "24 Sussex Drive". 5 September 2020. Archived from the original on 13 September 2020. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b National Capital Commission. "24 Sussex Drive". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on May 30, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Christie-Luff, Catherine; Clark, Catherine (2014). Rideau Hall – Inside Canada's House (Digital video). Ottawa: CPAC.
  4. ^ Wells, Paul (2013). The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006–. Random House of Canada (Maclean's). p. 144. ISBN 978-0-307-36134-9.
  5. ^ Tunney, Catharine (1 February 2018). "Trudeau says he doesn't see himself ever returning to live at 24 Sussex". CBC News. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  6. ^ Butler, Don (26 October 2015). "Trudeaus to call 22-room Rideau Cottage home while deciding on whether to move into 24 Sussex". National Post. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Justin Trudeau won't move in to 24 Sussex, says Margaret Trudeau". CBC News. October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  8. ^ [5][6][7]
  9. ^ Topley, William James (2015). "Laurier House National Historic Site – The History of Laurier House". Library and Archives Canada PA-008979. Parks Canada. Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  10. ^ Fisher, Luke (July 8, 1996). "Chrétien Attacker Found Guilty". Maclean's. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  11. ^ "A break in at 24 Sussex Drive". CBC News. November 6, 1995. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  12. ^ Dougherty, Kevin (December 20, 2007). "Ministers to discuss dollar at 24 Sussex Drive". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  13. ^ "Tractors bring farmers' protest to 24 Sussex Drive". CBC News. April 24, 2006. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  14. ^ "Greenpeace targets 24 Sussex Drive". CBC News. March 19, 2007. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  15. ^ "Trudeau family getting its meals delivered from 24 Sussex to Rideau Cottage | CBC News".
  16. ^ Curry, Bill (January 5, 2015). "Sink or swim: What to do about the dilapidated pool at 24 Sussex". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  17. ^ Plamondon, Bill (May 20, 2013). The Truth about Trudeau. Great River Media, Inc. ISBN 978-0-98-682421-0.
  18. ^ McParland, Kelly (May 24, 2013). "Pierre Trudeau's disastrous record is finally laid out for all to see". National Post. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  19. ^ Marquis, Melanie (October 23, 2015). "Decision soon on whether Trudeau will move into 24 Sussex Drive". Toronto Sun. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  20. ^ "Deportation failures, costly passports focus of AG's report". CBC News. May 6, 2008. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  21. ^ Morales, Steve (October 28, 2015). "Crumbling 24 Sussex an 'embarrassment' says HGTV's Bryan Baeumler". Global News. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  22. ^ Butler, Don (13 September 2015). "NCC working on plan to conserve 24 Sussex, other official residences". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  23. ^ Kingston, Anne (21 November 2015). "How the PM's residence became a nightmare at 24 Sussex". Maclean's. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  24. ^ "Nearly $37 million needed to fix 'critical' deterioration at 24 Sussex Drive: NCC". CTV News Ottawa. 2021-06-23. Retrieved 2021-08-07.
  25. ^ Taylor-Vaisey, Nick (2023-08-01). "Reno 911! The math on 24 Sussex". POLITICO. Retrieved 2023-08-01.
  26. ^ Bailey, Ian (2023-04-05). "Trudeau leaving fate of 24 Sussex Dr. to NCC amid rodent infestation reports". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2023-04-11.
  27. ^ Tasker, John Paul (May 29, 2023). "Construction work starts on 24 Sussex — but its future is still in doubt". CBC News. Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  28. ^ Baeumler, Bryan (November 14, 2015). "Rebuilding 24 Sussex should be a national project of pride". Toronto Star. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  29. ^ Spurr, Ben (October 30, 2015). "Fixing 24 Sussex Drive: Preserving Canada's history or a heap?". Toronto Star. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  30. ^ Wells, Paul (June 26, 2009). "It's time to tear down 24 Sussex". Maclean's. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  31. ^ Tasker, John Paul (October 28, 2015). "24 Sussex Drive should be torn down, says Maureen McTeer". CBC News. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  32. ^ "Heritage Ottawa's Leslie Maitland Discusses 24 Sussex and Rideau Cottage With CBC Television". Heritage Ottawa. November 2, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  33. ^ Willing, John (October 26, 2015). "Trudeaus moving into Rideau Cottage, instead of 24 Sussex". Ottawa Sun. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  34. ^ Leblanc, Daniel (29 August 2023). "Ottawa looking to drop 24 Sussex and build new home for PM elsewhere: sources". CBC. Retrieved 11 February 2024.

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